How to Make Deerbrook Mall a Destination

The perfect formula to make Deerbrook Mall the place to be: my wish list.

Deerbrook Mall will hopefully, at some point, undergo a major facelift. What this will look like and how it can turn around Deerfield as a destination, have yet to be seen.

Right now, Deerbrook Mall is the place you stop to grab something on your way to the “real” mall. Whether that would be Old Orchard, Northbrook Court or even, dare I say, Hawthorn? But that is really what it has become.


So here is my wish list to make Deerbrook Mall a destination.

The first thing I would do in my “dream” wish list for the mall at the southwest corner of Lake Cook and Waukegan Road is change the actual name of the mall. Deerbrook Mall has become synonymous with a desolate, death zone for so many stores it needs to be given a new life, which can start with a new name. I haven’t come up with what that is of yet, so suggestions are welcome.

To become a destination, the mall needs a flagship store. Some place that will attract other stores and bring people to the mall. After some careful consideration, my top three flagship stores that I would love to see nearby are Costco, Target or Nordstrom. All three are within a reasonable driving distance but far enough away that each one would clearly draw a huge customer base. And all three would make Deerbrook Mall (or whatever it might be renamed) a destination.

The mall needs to have a grocery option. The Jewel store currently based in the mall needs an overhaul. But, if Jewel does not stay for whatever reason, let’s bring Mariano’s here, or Fresh Farms. Both offer excellent grocery shopping options at great prices with good quality and good service. 

To make Deerbrook Mall a destination there needs to be something to do. Back in the day when I was a kid, Deerbrook Mall had a movie theatre. While I recognize Northbrook Court is nearby, what about putting a “cheap” theatre into the mall, along the lines of the Buffalo Grove or Highland Park Theatre. Or even an upscale theatre like at Renaissance Place? Another way to make the mall a destination. It would be a huge asset.

Another activity based option is to put in an indoor mini golf course. This would bring people to the mall for an afternoon or evening—not just a stop on the way. See a movie, have dinner, play some mini golf, get some ice cream.  

A mall also needs food options. Current offerings include Noodles & Co., Starbucks and Subway. While all nice options, lets pull in a Cheesecake Factory, a Portillo’s and a local upscale but affordable restaurant along the lines of Jerry’s in Winnetka or Market House in Lake Forest. And of course, there has to be an ice cream/yogurt option available. Frost, anyone?

With current Deerbrook Mall residents hopefully remaining at the mall including , , Carter’s, Ulta, , , Gamestop, and Famous Footwear among others, I would love to see The Children’s Place return to Deerfield, as well as Kohl’s, Discovery, Michael’s, DSW Warehouse, Journeys—make Deerfield a shopping destination. Make it a place where you can spend an afternoon or evening-make it a destination. And for heaven’s sake—a new name.

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LJ September 07, 2012 at 02:06 PM
An Old Navy would be great. (I still miss the one on Skokie Blvd.)
Ellen Beth Gill September 07, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I think we should turn it into a community garden. The world can use one less ill-rented strip mall.
Paul Doig September 08, 2012 at 12:10 AM
24 Hour Super Walmart
Joe Nelson September 08, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Mariano's is likely not an option. There are preliminary agreement to build one next to Beeson's Nursery across from Bannockburn Green.
Susan September 08, 2012 at 12:55 AM
How about an outlet mall, so we can save money not only on purchases but on the gas money driving up to Pleasant Prairie!! A fitting solution given our current economy.
Bringin' Down Briarwood September 08, 2012 at 04:25 AM
That's your "perfect" formula? Mini-golf and second-run movies with a load of chain stores? Stop thinking like the suburbs. Let's get original!!!!!!!! Let's bring the city to the village. What could separate a new concept from HP, Northbrook Court, Hawthorne. The city - places to walk ... original stores ... different food. Sure you may need a Target or two to help anchor the place, but not too much. The developer CAN'T be making any money off this property. Lower the costs and get some small original businesses in there. Get a jazz club/restaurant at one end of the mall. Small, creative restaurants. Art galleries. Get a theater company at the other end of the mall. There HAS to be someone who would bite on a small space/low cost theater to get traffic at night. That helps develop your night traffic. Get some kiddie place in there with Starbucks to start the daytime foot traffic. Sure, get a grocery store in there. But how about a year-round farmers market at the other end? Ever been to the french market downtown? It HAS to be easier to ship fresh produce three minutes off of 94 than anyplace in the city. Also helps your new fresh produce restaurant. Yes, I could go on and on. Point is that soooooooo much of that space has been vacant for a ridiculously long time. If the developer won't drive it, the village needs to help them in creative ways.
Bringin' Down Briarwood September 08, 2012 at 04:35 AM
On the other hand, a prominent village official told me I was "over-shooting" to consider this would be redone with an atmosphere similar to the Glen. That's all I needed to hear to know how low this person's standards were. If you can't even aim for something similar to the Glen, I really don't think you have the capabilities, creativity and business savvy to turn this around. A redesigned Jewel and TJ Maxx is just asking for more of the same. And it's my feeling that's where this was ABSOLUTELY going. This will be a big topic for me at election time. I think it's time for some new leadership, then we can address this again. Oh, and maybe somebody we can also talk about Cadwell Corners also.
Rorkesdrift September 08, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Yes your three big picks would be good for the mall, however we are within a 15 minute radius of 3 Targets, 2 Costcos and a Nordstroms. Sorry but I doubt they would close one of the existing stores so it could move to Deerfield. Tenants such as 2nd run movie houses and mini golf are usually located in strip malls that have declined so far down the retail food chain that they are willing to take any tenant that will pay some rent and help with the overhead expenses. When you see these types of stores you can be sure the owner is one step away from bankruptcy. It is very difficult and tricky to reposition an existing strip mall - try reading the lease agreements that major retailers use and you will understand the frustration of the owner. The in demand, credit worthy national retailers know that they have the upper hand in negotiations and will beat up the owner like you wouldn't believe. I don't know what the answer is but it is going to take some dramatic creativity to fix rather then lists (this applies to all comenters in this and all the other posts I have read concerning this topic) of retailers where Deerbrook is located within the market area of existing locations or very niche stores.
Bringin' Down Briarwood September 08, 2012 at 11:38 PM
"Beat up the owner?" How much worse can you be beaten than having your property half empty for more than a two years (and that's being extremely generous). I'd love to sit in on the meetings between the guy who actually manages this property and his boss. There HAS to be a reason is has been so pitifully run for xx years.
Elizabeth Fish September 11, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Great ideas! Love the idea of the Old Navy, Super Walmart & the Outlet Center! All would be welcome additions!! I also would be thrilled to see a French Farmers Market, jazz club or an art gallery-was trying to consider things that were possible, not sure that is in the realm of possibility but I love the concept! Thats really what is needed-a GREAT CONCEPT! Thanks for the contributions.
Walter White September 11, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Was this official on the wrong side of 80, by any chance?
Billy September 21, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I don't think it needs to change the name entirely. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the name "Deerbrook." The term "Mall", however, has become dated, considering how trends in shopping have moved away from the overall enclosed "mall" concept, of which it is typically associated. I think something like Deerbrook Center or Deerbrook Square would be perfectly good names to adopt.
Mike Razzoog December 18, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I like the concept and the thinking. I've seen it work in other communities, be it downtown or suburban. So many folks would love to have a "touch of city" up here vs. another suburban strip mall with bad stores. Making deerbrook a second store destination of choice for successful small businesses would be a win/win.


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